Brian ‘Head’ Welch + Daughter Jennea Address Personal Evolution, Reuniting With Korn + More in ‘Loud Krazy Love’ Documentary
Back in 2005, Korn guitarist Brian "Head" Welch surprised many, walking away from the group at the height of their fame, but his decision to do so was a deeply personal one. Welch not only decided to focus on beating his addictions and found strength in spirituality, he also wanted to devote more time to being a better parent to his young daughter Jennea.
While many are familiar with the story on the surface, Head and Jennea have shown great honesty and vulnerability in revealing their sometimes troubled but always loving relationship in a new documentary. Head faces his demons head on and Jennea dealt with issues of her own while coming of age, and their evolving relationship is at the heart of the new documentary, Loud Krazy Love, which is airing tonight (Friday, Dec. 14) at 10PM ET/PT on Showtime.
We had a chance to speak with both father and daughter, as well as counselor Tiffany Claywell, about their journey toward a healthier relationship, Head's return to Korn and how the Loud Krazy Love documentary came to be. Check out the chat below.
What was the impetus to get this film rolling?
Head: It started in 2005. I had left Korn and there was a new MTV show about spirituality. I forget what it was called, but they were like, ‘We want to throw you in there because there are different faiths.’ But the show, I think they canceled it or if they didn’t cancel it, something fell through. So basically I ended up with the footage and I was thinking about doing a documentary or a reality show. But that didn’t happened, so two years later I’m out of Korn and I’m doing my own thing and I was just kind of being a dad and just started doing music again and we started filming that. I was just writing for my solo album and we thought we’d put a documentary together. But that fell through, and I just thought I’ll put it in a box and I don’t give a rip if we ever do a documentary again because every time we start, it’s just junk.
Fast forward to 2013 and I get a call from I Am Second who produced a film with Ditore Mayo and they said, ‘This is a really interesting story.’ They had done like an 8-minute story on me through I Am Second, and they asked, ‘What do you think about us taking the cameras out on the road?’ and filming your return to Korn? That’s a cool story.’ So we did that and it ended up being a two hour documentary edited together and we watched it back a few times and then the lightbulb went off. This is a story about a father and a daughter. This is you and Jennea’s story. Yes, the Korn story should be in there – leaving Korn and going back to Korn, but this should be about the father and daughter story, so the edited it down again and went digging through 20 terabytes of footage and found priceless footage like my daughter’s birth and old footage of her as a baby and me in Ice Cube’s studio and all this became what it is.
Jennea, a big part of this involves you as well. What were your thoughts when the idea of doing this very personal film around your relationship came about?
Jennea: When they presented me the idea, I was 15 and I was in boarding school at the time, and I was going through some pretty intense counseling and unpacking my childhood. But they just presented me with the idea of this film and my dad was really sure to let me know that if I didn’t want to do it and that if I didn’t want to put it out there, I didn’t have to. But I just felt like there were so many kids going through what I was going through that I needed to. It would be selfish not to.
Your love for your daughter is very apparent through this entire film, but having her out on the road is maybe not the healthiest lifestyle for her to be around. Can you speak to some of the things you learned along the way in trying to look after her while balancing your rock life?
Head: Oh my gosh, like everyone’s supposed to behave when the kid’s out on the road, right? But there was a thing where Jennea’s out, but everyone’s still partying and trying to do their thing “away.” I guess there are things that I don’t have any memory of, because I was in control and just having a couple of beers a day when she was out because my wife was out of the picture and I was trying to be responsible. So I had covered all those bases and everyone was watching out for her too, but later in the night I guess there were some times when she saw some stuff. I didn’t just let the kid wander around, “Okay go play” backstage. Never.
Jennea: I usually had people with me, always.
Head: I hired one from the enemy’s camp, which was I hired one of Britney Spears’ dancers, to be like a nanny out on the road. She watched her all the time, but I guess there were a couple of times where I wasn’t there and something happened, but it was hard. You play a show and everyone usually goes to bed late and I want her to see the daylight so we have to wake up kind of early, go out to the park or a Sea World type of thing or the zoo.
Jennea: You were good about making sure I had fun.
Head: But it was hard because I was heartbroken too. My wife left and she had someone new in her life. But the responsibility, I just loved Jennea so much and I was able to focus on her, but there was a pretty deep sadness just because of what was it going to be like when we get off the road and everything was different now. So I tried to make the best of it, but as you heard in the trailer, you try your best but I guess some things slip through the cracks.
One of the things you were going through was your addiction issues as well. We see the role that finding religion played in that, but that’s only part of the matter at hand. Do you think that period of embracing spirituality also helped you be a better parent?
Head: Totally. Although I like to be careful with that word “religion.” I don’t want to be lumped in to the judgmental or the structure of American Christianity or anything like that, because a lot of those people don’t like me. I’ve gotten a lot of support, but there’s a group – just like every proportion of human society, there’s good and bad. The judgmental thing … I’m all about God is love and he wants you just the way you are. He wants you to come to him just the way you are. So yes, he did help me, but my thing is not the going to Sunday church and doing the happy clappy thing and ‘Amen, brother.’ Mine is a deep spiritual inner reality, a relationship with the divine through Christ. That’s my thing.
It’s so real and yeah it helped me. I’d say the biggest part of how it helped me in my life was with my self-hatred. I had a deep-rooted self-hatred and as I look back I see it was there all along, cause it’s not there anymore. But as I was living it, I just thought, ‘Oh, I’m depressed, ungrateful, a fool that is a rock star.’ I was just never happy, but I remember as a kid I just remember looking in the mirror at a young age and I had problems with girls and was getting picked on by bullies and I just thought, ‘I don’t like you. I don’t like this package you came in.’ So I just kind of carried that my whole life and I drank for years and years all the time, every day, and even when I had millions of dollars and was on MTV every day, I had that self-hatred and I just felt if those fans or all these girls that want me now, if they got close enough and they got to know me, they wouldn’t like me. I just wanted to hurt myself and harm myself and medicate myself.
In the film, we see when you leave Korn and the reactions. Jonathan Davis in particular just seemed so hurt by your exit...
Head: Isn’t it cool how Jonathan’s just real and raw? I love it. I love it. Be yourself. I’m not telling Jonathan to be nice because we’re interviewing you.
Jennea: It was just so good. That was so real.
Take me through leaving Korn to reuniting with the band. What was that relationship during that period? Was there ever a desire to reach out or were the ties just completely severed the moment you left?
Head: It was crazy. I got a call from James [Munky Shaffer] and his dad had passed away and I’d known him and his dad and his family for years, and in my mind I was just like, ‘I don’t know why he’s calling but I don’t want to talk to anybody from my past. I just want to be around all new. I don’t want to deal with heavy emotions.’ So I didn’t call him back and I found out later that’s why he was calling. I felt horrible.
Fieldy? No, I just didn’t talk to anyone. Jonathan just wanted to tie me up and have his people give me a bloody face. He was really mad at me, so I didn’t want to talk to him at all. But there was a thing, I remember when Corey [Taylor] and a few other singers, they were in the U.K. and there was some kind of blood scare with Jonathan and he was in the hospital and something happened where I got his contact and asked if he was okay and I reached out and said, “All this stuff we’ve been through, life is too short and I hope you’re okay,” and he’s like, “Hey, we’re okay. I love you man and I’m a little sick and they’re doing tests.” It was cool, it was quick, but we didn’t stay in touch at all. Then he probably went back to being mad at me, but it’s funny what death scares can do.
And yes, I tried to stay away from the music too, but I couldn’t. I’d run to the computer and listen to the new Korn when it came out. I’d try not to just because it’s hard to be away from it. It was hard. I wished the best for them, but it’s still hurts. It’s like if your ex-wife was flaunting her life in front of you in the press. So it just hurts, so I kept up a little bit, but not so much with communication, just a couple of times.
Jennea, he’s very considerate of your feelings and asked you specifically about returning to Korn. What were your thoughts after seeing him reunite with the band onstage and the possibility of him returning to the band?
Jennea: I was 13 or 14 at the time and I was really into rock too. I was totally for it. When I was younger, there was a difference in how he talked about Korn then and how he did at that period of time. Back when I was younger, it was, ‘Oh, that was bad, that was bad,’ but later in 2012 when Carolina Rebellion came around, those conversations I just felt that those were his brothers and it just felt like it was meant to be.
As we see Jennea getting older in the documentary, she was having issues with depression, cutting and acting out. How difficult was it to make the decision that she needs help and that it may not come from you?
Head: I think it was the hardest day of my life. I just was like there's no other choice, because she was not getting better. Her counselor, Kristi Williams, who was helping us when we were doing weekly Skype sessions, it just wasn't getting better. There were short periods of time where it seemed like it would, but bam, crash down. So I started talking to Tiffany [Claywell] here, and she's from Awakening Youth. You may recognize her from the movie, but she's been here through the whole process and she's proud too. She's done a lot of work and Jennea wants her here for support and they are like family.
When I dropped her off it was hard. Tiffany told us about the school and Jennea thought we were just going to check it out cause she threatened she would run away, and we were there for 45 minutes and then Tiffany just gave the nod, like tell her. So I said, 'Jennea, I'm enrolling you here and you're staying,' and she was like, 'Fuuuuuuuuuuuu!'
Jennea: But I was 14, so like a 14-year-old girl yell. What does that even look like?
Head: That was my step that I had to take and that was going to be her new family for the next five years. We didn't know that then, thinking it was going to be like an eight month thing, but it was a shock to her. It was hard because that first two months there were times when she was just trying to adjust to that new normal, but she was like, 'Where's my dad? My dad's not here.' So it was really emotional, and then one day it clicked. That was what I was hoping for for two months, was like 'C'mon, please let her accept it,' because I couldn't do it all anymore.
The first day I picked her up and saw her face to face two months later and I was just dreading that day, hoping for the best, and she got in the car and goes, 'I know I'm supposed to be here.' It was like it was meant to be and it was a load off, just a load off my shoulders and from then on it was like a process that we went through.
She's still there and she's working for them now and going to college, but for a while it was like this is what we need. This is a different type of family situation that she needs.
Tiffany, I wanted to get your initial impression upon meeting these two and if you can talk about the growth you've seen over the period that Jennea has been with you.
Tiffany: Well, we met Brian because we had a boy whose mother had been murdered and he was in a program that we worked in. Nobody could reach him and he wasn't about anything to do with faith, and he had experienced loss. So you're dealing with a kid with extreme trauma. The only thing that reached his soul was Brian's books.
It had been years since I had been to metal shows, but my husband said Chris just needs to see Brian Welch when he comes to town, so we brought kids to go see Brian play. And it was the Brian "Head" Welch band, not a big giant venue, not a Korn venue, and we ended up with a backstage pass and I met him briefly and he was like, 'Bring all the kids back -- 15 or 16 kids, he brought 'em all back with backstage passes and met them, so my initial impression was that this is someone who really cares about people. So he took our contact information and just kept in touch with me for over a year.
We had seen that there had been a lot of changes that needed to be made in the mental health of young people so we kind of dove out and started our own school and he was just so supportive and he messaged us and said, 'Hey, I'm going to be in town. Bring all your kids - backstage passes, I'll get all your kids tickets.' This was before anything..
When I first met Jennea, she was 13, crazy-haired and home schooling and texting in a corner and I kept trying to explain we didn't work with troubled kids, we worked with super gifted kids that need a different environment. But she was very special and different, they both were. I've worked with rock stars to rocket scientists, doctors, lawyers, engineers .... Brian has been one of the easiest parents. It takes a lot because it's a different environment and we focus on single parents, so you have to bring something different to their situation, the visits were a little bit different. Both of them have been so humble and open through a process, and it's really experimental treatment - non-FDA experimental treatment - and they just submitted and it's been beautiful.
Head: You can tell. You know if something is working. At first it was like this is all I had in front of me, so I had to trust this. We had some things in common, but when you see the process and it's getting results and you see how things are dealt with when there is friction, it just worked. It worked good.
Jennea, we see you in the film playing guitar early on and songwriting. Is this something you're interested in and has your dad showed you any tips?
Jennea: A little bit, yeah, but honestly music is more of a hobby for me. I'm not trying to pursue a career. I'm more into writing. I like fashion, teenagers, people, I don't know, anything but music. Just kidding.
Head: She's seen the lifestyle and it's so hard. Touring non-stop every year and it's hard on families. So she'll figure it out. If it's meant to be, she'll get hit one day and be like, 'I have to do it.'
Just wanted to get your thoughts on the fact that people will be able to see this this weekend on Showtime.
Head: All the information can be found on LoudKrazyLove.com, and it's going to be available everywhere in the spring, but the Showtime thing, we're so excited to have them partner with us. Showtime's a legendary name and it feels really good to start it off with them. We're grateful for them.
As stated, 'Loud Krazy Love' will air on Showtime tonight (Dec. 14) at 10PM ET/PT. You can also learn about future screenings, go backstage with the filmmakers and sign up to see exclusive content at the 'Loud Krazy Love' film website. Watch a trailer for the film below.
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